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Templar Castles in Outremer

Gaston - Baghras

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Templar Castles in Outremer

Gaston

(Baghras)

  originally built by the Byzantines in 968AD

Given to the Templars in 1154 by Prince Reynald of Antioch

Gaston (Baghras) near Antioch developed into a powerful fortress, though its greatest strength lay in its location on a rocky crag surrounded by cliffs. Here the builders of the castle did not even have to excavate a rock-cut fosse to separate the site from the neighbouring hill.  From Crusader Castles in the Holy Land 1097 - 1192

The castle of Gaston (Baghras) dominated the strategic Belen Pass through the Amanus Mountains east of Antioch. It consisted of outer and inner circuit walls, both with rounded towers, perched on a very steep hill. After falling to Saladin it passed into the hands of the Armenians, before being returned to the Templars in 1216. Ironically, its most important subsequent role was to protect the Principality of Antioch against its fellow Christian neighbour in the Kingdom of Cilician Armenia.  --    Crusader castles in the Holy Land 1192-1302


 
Gaston (Baghras) near Antioch developed into a powerful fortress, though its greatest strength lay in its location on a rocky crag surrounded by cliffs. Here the builders of the castle did not even have to excavate a rock-cut fosse to separate the site from the neighbouring hill.  From Crusader Castles in the Holy Land 1097 - 1192


The castle of Gaston (Baghras) dominated the strategic Belen Pass through the Amanus Mountains east of Antioch. It consisted of outer and inner circuit walls, both with rounded towers, perched on a very steep hill. After falling to Saladin it passed into the hands of the Armenians, before being returned to the Templars in 1216. Ironically, its most important subsequent role was to protect the Principality of Antioch against its fellow Christian neighbour in the Kingdom of Cilician Armenia.  --    Crusader castles in the Holy Land 1192-1302


Gaston was surrendered following the fall of Jerusalem in ?


Following the fall of Sis, the capital of Cilician Armenia and then the capture of Antioch by the Mamelukes in may 1268, the position of the Templar fortresses in the Amanus march became untenable.


1268 - "The Templar garrison at Gaston (Baghras), the impregnable fortress guarding the Syrian gates, on learning that Antioch had fallen after only a few days, decided that it would be impossible to holdout. However, surrendering a fortress in border territory without the Grand Master's permission was a serious breach of the Orders rules and the commander therefore determined to withstand the Mameluke army as best he could. However, while the community was eating, one of the brothers, Guis of Belin, left the fortress with the keys to the gate and took them to Baybars saying that the Templar garrison wanted to surrender.
"The commander and the Templar knights were ready to repudiate this unauthorised surrender but the templar sergeants were less resolute. Faced with the prospect of their desertion, and realising that by now Baybars would have been told of their weak position by Guis of Belin, the commander ordered the evacuation of Gaston. In this he anticipated, correctly, the orders of the Grand master who had dispatched a Brother Pelestort to tell the garrison of Gaston to fall back on La Roche Guillaume, but none the less, on reaching Acre, the knights from Gaston were charged with the unauthorised surrender of the castle. Given the circumstances, the proscribed punishment of expulsion from the Temple was reduced to the loss of their habits for a year, and might have been lighter still had they destroyed the arms and supplies held in Gaston before they left. ----- P.P.Read


 

 

 

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